In France, the ‘barn find of the century’

Rust is not picky. If it dines on a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider rather than a 1982 Chevrolet Chevette, don’t expect an appreciative belch. Ochre stains, however, can be catnip for automobile collectors disillusioned with diaper-buffed concours queens. These enthusiasts thrill to the prospect of spending years – and millions – returning a sympathetic shine to iron oxide’s victims.

It appears that these collectors’ ship has come in. Cars found mouldering on a French estate will be auctioned in February 2015 in Paris, during the Rétromobile programme of vintage-car events. Among these is the aforementioned Ferrari Spider – which may bring a 12m euro high bid – and a Maserati A6G designed by legendary Turinese coachbuilder Frua. Some 60 vehicles in all will be offered, most dating from the 1930s.

Consigners Artcurial Motorcars have also identified a pair of coachbuilt Talbot Lago coupes, one of which having belonged to King Farouk of Egypt. Surrounding these are Hispano Suizas, Delahayes, Citroëns, Jaguars, Porsches and other European makes, all wearing what might be charitably described as “patina”.

The collection was amassed in the ‘50s and ‘60s by Roger Baillon, a transport industrialist. The auctioneer notes that Baillon’s fortunes soured in the ‘70s, and though he managed to sell some cars during that time, many were poorly stored in outbuildings round his property in western France. It was only when Baillon’s heirs made enquiries at auction houses that the importance of the rusted heaps became apparent.

For a heart-rending tour of the site, watch the video below. Interested parties would be advised to bring their rust brushes and open chequebooks.

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